Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) finding that it did not have statutory jurisdiction to consider Petitioner’s complaint challenging the Greater Harrison County Public Service District’s (the District) rate increase, holding that the District was not subject to the PSC’s jurisdiction with regard to ratemaking authority. In 2015, the Legislature adopted deregulation measures to limit the PSC’s jurisdiction and to exempt larger public service districts from the requirement that the district obtain approval from he PSC before changing the rates it charged for water or sewer service. After 2015, larger public service districts, statutory defined as having at least 4,500 customers, were only required to obtain approval of a rate change from a local elected body. After the Harrison County Commission approved a rate increase sought by the District, Petitioner, a District customer, brought suit arguing that the PSC had jurisdiction because the District did not have at least 4,500 customers. The PSC found that the District provided service to at least 4,500 customers, and thus, it did not have jurisdiction to examine the District’s rate increase. The Supreme Court affirmed. View "Pool v. Greater Harrison County Public Service District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Public Service Commission finding that the Jefferson County Public Service District may “indefinitely delay” a project to upgrade its sewer service, holding that the Commission did not exceed its authority or make factual findings that were not supported by adequate evidence and that the substantive result of the Commission’s order was not improper. The Supreme Court may reserve an order of the Commission when it exceeded its authority, it made factual findings that were not supported by adequate evidence, and the substantive result of the order was not proper. In affirming the Commission’s order, the Court held that, under the facts of this case, none of these three situations applied. View "Jefferson County Citizens for Economic Preservation v. Public Service Commission of West Virginia" on Justia Law

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Petitioner filed a complaint against West Virginia-American Water Company (Respondent) seeking damages and penalties for alleged violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (WVCCPA) regarding Respondent’s business policies and practices regarding leaks in Petitioner’s water line. The circuit court granted Respondent’s motion to dismiss, finding that Petitioner's claims arose from transactions encompassed by W. Va. Code 46A-1-105(a)(3) and thus were statutorily excluded from the WVCCPA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 46A-1-105(a)(3) applied to exclude Petitioner's WVCCPA claims, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in dismissing Petitioner's complaint. View "Holt v. W. Va. Am. Water Co." on Justia Law

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In 2004, the Berkeley County Water District and Sewer District filed requests with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to charge capacity improvement fees (CIFs) due to rapid population growth in the county. The PSC approved the requested CIFs. Petitioners subsequently filed a declaratory judgment action in the circuit court, seeking relief from paying the CIFs. The circuit court found that the PSC lacked jurisdiction to establish the CIFs. However, the Supreme Court found Petitioners had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies before the PSC and reversed. Subsequently, the PSC discontinued the CIFs, finding that the Sewer District and Water District no longer satisfied the criteria for charging the CIFs. Thereafter, the PSC granted Petitioners' motion to deny the Water and Sewer Districts' petitions for reconsideration. Petitioners appealed to challenge errors they alleged were contained in the PSC's final order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners were judicially estopped from challenging the errors. View "Larry V. Faircloth Realty, Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, the Public Service Commission of West Virginia and the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority, sought to compel Respondents, Lackawanna Transport Company and Solid Waste Services, Inc., to comply with an order entered by the Public Service Commission requiring them to produce certain information and financial records pertinent to an ongoing investigation concerning the Wetzel County Landfill. The Supreme Court granted the requested writ of mandamus, holding (1) a writ of mandamus is appropriate in this case, as Respondents were legally required to produce the requested information; and (2) while arguably there was another remedy available in this instance through the circuit court, that remedy was not adequate given the unique circumstances given here. View "State ex rel. Pub. Serv. Comm'n v. Lackawann Transp. Co." on Justia Law

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Ruling on a joint petition for declaratory order filed by Monongahela Power Company and Potomac Edison Company ("The Utilities"), The Public Service Commission of West Virginia held that the alternative and renewable energy resource credits attributable to energy purchases by the Utilities from Morgantown Energy Associates (MEA) and the City of New Martinsville ("the Generators"), were owned by the Utilities during the terms of electric energy purchase agreements between the entities. On appeal, the Generators contended that the Commission erred in its ruling and that the energy resource credits were owned by them. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission did not err in finding the credits at issue were owned by the Utilities; and (2) the Commission did not err in holding that it would deem MEA's Morgantown project as a certified facility under the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Act upon the submission of sufficient evidence by the Utilities. View "City of New Martinsville v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n " on Justia Law

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Petitioner Jefferson Utilities, Inc. (JUI), a privately-held public utility authorized to provide water service to several areas of Jefferson County, filed a request with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia for a rate increase of approximately 72.2 percent. The ALJ recommended a rate increase of 22.4 percent, and the Commission reduced the rate increase recommended by the ALJ to 4.4 percent. JUI appealed, contending that the Commission erred by rejecting the recommended decision of the ALJ regarding the rate increase. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that although the evidence in this case was controverted, it was clear that the Commission's decision was not arbitrary, did not result from a misapplication of legal principles, and was supported by substantial evidence in the record. View "Jefferson Utils., Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of W. Va." on Justia Law